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Scott Walker’s Budget Continues State on March to Tea Party Right

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Friday, 22 February 2013
in Our View

scott-walker-clapsMADISON - In his biennial budget address, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a chance to reverse the policies that caused so much unrest and recall elections in his first two years in office. Instead of moving to represent all of us, he chose to double down on his commitment to national right wing interest groups over the people of Wisconsin.

Governor Walker laid out a budget that favors corporate campaign donors and out-of-state special interests, at the expense of Wisconsin’s middle class families. While he has spent the past several months paying lip service to moderation, this latest budget proves that all that talk was just talk. There is more of the same policies that have Wisconsin ranked 42nd in the nation in job growth and 2nd to last in economic growth prospects.

Such priorities in Wisconsin as education, health care and jobs-creating infrastructure continue to face a deficit under Scott Walker and his budget. There was no attempt to provide a stronger education system by refunding the devastating cuts of last session to ensure our children have access to a quality education. He also did not provide for a stronger BadgerCare system, fully funded and truly covering 175,000 more working Wisconsinites. Finally, the budget missed a middle class jobs plan that increases access to worker training, access to capital for small businesses and incentivizes buying Wisconsin and buying American.

Scott Walker must think our memories are short and that, by making miniscule investments in schools, tech colleges and job training we won't remember that he slashed those same programs to the bone just two years ago. Will Wisconsin voters give the Governor credit for investing a penny where two years ago he cut a dollar?

Scott Walker’s new budget continues to short change public education, harm job creation, grow the debt and weaken the economic security of Wisconsin’s middle class. The following is a short summary of some of the issues.

ON JOBS

Despite the undying work ethic of Wisconsin’s middle class families, our state is last in the Midwest in virtually every economic indicator while neighboring states enjoy a robust recovery.

This budget fails to introduce any substantive economic development programs and throws chump change at worker training after $72 million in cuts in the last budget

Now, in the face of historic failure, Walker is wasting taxpayer dollars on an $11 million propaganda campaign to make people believe we are doing well instead of fixing the problem

In the face of a crucial skills gap, Scott Walker chose to cut Wisconsin back to vocational technical funding at 1989 levels. His current budget does not fix the damage already done.

Not only have jobs left Wisconsin under Scott Walker’s watch, wages and standards of living have diminished as well.

ON HEALTH CARE

Scott Walker’s budget prevents tens of thousands of people from getting access to healthcare.

Walker’s policies may play well in right-wing circles, but the reality is the cost of care in Wisconsin will be higher and fewer will have access to it.

By saddling Wisconsin with $250 million more in health care costs by turning away Medicaid expansion, and by deep cuts to BadgerCare and aid to seniors, Walker is ensuring that taxpayers will pay more for health care and more out-of-pocket.

ON EDUCATION/VOUCHERS

Through the budget process, Walker has already cut more than $1.6 billion from public education. This budget does nothing to repair the damage to our schoolchildren and Wisconsin’s competitiveness in a global marketplace.

The proposed budget increase for education would not add a single dollar, a single penny to the classrooms. Wisconsin school districts would continue to operate under the same funding levels and the increase in funds will just relieve some of the local tax levies.

Scott Walker’s voucher plan takes your tax money to pay for the wealthy to attend private schools and leave the public schools to fail.

Weakening public schools in the midst of a jobs crisis by funneling money to private schools can only continue Wisconsin’s downward economic spiral, which has us lagging nationally in job growth.

By expanding vouchers for private schools, Scott Walker is punishing public schools, rewarding out-of-state donors, and harming our children.

ON THE STATE INCOME TAX

Scott Walker is masking a tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest by calling it a middle class tax cut.

A true middle class tax cut would not give the biggest breaks to those making over $200,000 a year as Governor Walker’s proposal is expected to do

Democrats support giving Wisconsin’s middle class families a tax break, but Governor Walker’s proposal is not that. It does not call for shared sacrifice and for everyone to pay their fair share.

ON TRANSPORTATION SPENDING

Walker is seeking $6.4 billion in new transportation spending even as Wisconsin suffers record debt under his fiscal mismanagement. He plans on paying for this special interest giveaway by the irresponsible sale of public assets.

To pay for his new transportation spending, Walker is conducting a firesale of Wisconsin assets to his corporate benefactors.

ON THE WAR ON WOMEN

By defunding women’s health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, Walker has continued the “War on Women” that treats women as second-class citizens.

Because of his ideologically-driven cuts, Walker has left thousands of rural women without access to birth control, cervical cancer screenings and other forms of life-saving health care.

Additionally, Walker’s refusal to restore wage equity protections shows an alarming lack of compassion for women who do not receive equal pay for equal work.

ON INNOVATION

Scott Walker’s claim that his historic cuts to education, infrastructure and health care are “innovations” is false. What Walker is doing is part of the same old ideology that rewards corporate benefactors and ideological fellow travelers at the expense of workers, seniors, the middle class and the most vulnerable.

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Let’s Get Real on Gun Control

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 December 2012
in Our View

rambo-squirrelGREEN BAY - In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President and other responsible leaders have again raised the issue of gun control as a possible answer to reducing gun violence in America. The most common solutions discussed are a return to the assault weapons ban repealed in 2004 and closing the loophole that allows the purchase of guns at local gun shows without the normal background check.

But the gun lobby has trotted out the usual diversion tactics to muddy the waters. It is a common tactic in public debate.

Shouldn’t we put a cop in every school or theater, or arm teachers, or publish the names of all gun owners, or require mandatory psychiatric care for any relative we think is a little bit weird, they say. While we’re at it, let’s round up all the semi-automatic pistols and violent video games. Why not cancel all the cop shows on TV? The beat goes on. Another media circus.

And in the end, they hope, we will all just throw up our hands, again, and say the problem is too big to solve so we should just do nothing.

Cory Booker had the best point on Meet the Press last Sunday. We are not even arguing about the real problem.

There are good reasons besides hunting for law abiding citizens to buy guns. Personal safety is one of them. I would even argue that more progressives and liberals should get guns. If something happens, like a month long power outage, we wouldn’t want the conservatives to be the only people in the neighborhood armed.

But that’s not the problem, nor is the general state of psychiatric care in the country. We are not going to stop all gun violence with a single law. But we can make things a little better.

Experience shows that, if you want to pull off a mass shooting at a school or theater, you want to arm yourself with a military style long gun with a high capacity banana clip like the AR-15. It’s been the weapon of choice in several of the recent shootings. And a return to the assault weapons ban can make it just a little more difficult for these shooters to get them.

And, as Cory Booker said, evidence in his city shows that law abiding citizens don’t commit crimes with guns. In fact, he said that of all the gun crimes committed in Newark in one recent year, only one was committed by someone who had gotten the gun by going through the normal background check at a registered gun dealer. The problem is the secondary market where nearly 40 per cent of the guns in this country change hands.

If you buy a gun at a gun store with a background check, you have to swear that you have not committed a felony lately, or been dishonorably discharged from the military, or been treated for mental illness, or are addicted to drugs, or need to be restrained from committing domestic abuse.

These are common sense questions to keep the guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. Why shouldn’t everyone who wants to buy a gun be required to answer them? Why keep the secondary market loophole open that allows people to buy a gun without a background check? What’s all this nonsense about taking the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens?

We are not going to stop all future gun violence at schools like Sandy Hook. We are not going to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy. We are not going to all love one another. Those delusions ended in the sixties.

But we can do something to make the shootings a little less easy for the shooters, and that is a start. The first step is to keep the discussion on the real issues.

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Taxpayer Asks Walker If It Was Worth It

Posted by Rich Langan
Rich Langan
Rich Langan is a member of the Democratic Party of Brown County and a former ele
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on Sunday, 09 December 2012
in Wisconsin

GREEN BAY - I got my property tax bill yesterday. I saved $30 over last year. Gov. Walker you have trampled the rights of every state employee, you have demonized and demoralize teachers, you have increased class sizes, you have destroyed collective bargaining, you continue battling Affordable Health Care, you have destroyed the right to protest your shenanigans by appointing a Gestapo police chief who will do your bidding. Now that you have the Senate back you will continue to lead Wisconsin back a hundred years, pollute the environment, destroy the public school system with vouchers, and continue your assault on voting rights. But I saved $30 on my property tax.

Well call me Warren Buffet but I would love to pay that $30 plus a lot more to allow families and neighbors to talk to each other again, and keep Wisconsin on a progressive track for the future for our workers and our children. 

Rich Langan

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Progressive Giant of Appleton Passes

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
in Our View

Dr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGENDr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGEN, M.D., who helped found the modern Democratic Party of Wisconsin, dies at the age of 94.


APPLETON – In today’s politics and political parties, leaders often seem to come and go with the 24 hour news cycle. We often forget who got us here. Not so with Dr. Marv Kagen, a true giant from the “greatest generation” who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights and helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire.

Marv Kagen, M.D. always reassured his family he would live forever; he had the right idea, living 94 years from April 11, 1918 until November 23, 2012.

Marv's childhood was spent in the back room of his family's Kagen Drug Store during the Great Depression in Chicago, Illinois. When he could see over the counter, he went to work greeting customers with his life-long trademark: "Glad to see you. How may I help you?"

Marv was always agreeable and kind, believing the customer was always right. He also had a great sense of humor, formed in his youth by watching comedy shows from orchestra pits in Chicago theaters.

Dr. Kagen attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois and the University of Illinois Medical School where he earned his Medical Degree at the age of 22. During World War II, he served as a physician in the U.S. Coast Guard and afterwards, he returned to Chicago to study Dermatology. Marv met and married registered nurse Virginia Johnson in 1947, and moved to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1948, where his son Charlie joined Marv in the Kagen Dermatology Clinic in 1984.

Dr. Kagen loved serving people and was a founding member of the Wisconsin Dermatological Society. He was also active in the American Academy of Dermatology.

Marv was a stand-up guy, organizing people for civil rights beginning in the 1940s. When ordered by his superior officer to flunk all "colored" candidates for the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, he responded, "I will not do that." Several days later, Dr. Kagen was sent to sea on the USS Calloway. Later, in the 1960s, Marv and his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights for all.

Marv Kagen helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire, commenting, "I may be well-off, but I have never been rich enough to be a Republican." 

Dr. Kagen was opposed to making war, and in 1966 he ran for Congress against our involvement in Vietnam, saying later that it was the greatest challenge he had ever taken on. Kagen was also a champion of our environment, as Appleton Health Commissioner he was the first to ban indiscriminate use of DDT in 1959.

Marv married trial attorney Mary Lou Robinson in 1974, and together they served the needs of their community on issues of social justice, conservation and community health for four decades.

In 1992, Marv and his son, Steve Kagen, M.D., began their campaign to guarantee access to health care for everyone. They sought to make health care a Civil Right by outlawing the once common insurance company practice of discriminating against patients with pre-existing medical conditions - and after 18 years of effort, they succeeded with the passage of our nation's new health care law in 2010.

When asked what he enjoyed most in life, Marv Kagen said, "That's easy. Everyday in my office I'd see the richest and the poorest people in town, and I'd give them all the same treatment at the same price. Nothing beats making people feel better."

Dr. Marv Kagen was so loving and kind to everyone; he was always reassuringly positive to his family, his friends and his patients. He told his children he had a sign on his forehead that read, "You can handle it."

Marv loved helping people, and his loving phrase lives on in our minds: "Be kind to yourself, and if you force anything force a smile."

Dr. Kagen is survived by his great friend Mary Lou Robinson (Hollandtown, WI), former wife Virginia Johnson Kagen (Appleton, WI), children Suzanne (Tom) Sipple (Lawrence, KS), Steve (Gayle) Kagen, M.D. and Charlie (Francoise) Kagen, M.D. (Appleton, WI); grandchildren Melissa Kagen, RN-NP and husband US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Van Auken (Alexandria, VA), Michael Kagen, M.D. and fiancée Zainab Nayeri, M.D. (Chattanooga, TN), and Thomas Kagen, Stephanie Kagen, R.N., Corinne Kagen and Camille Kagen (Appleton, WI); sister Helene Toland, nieces Debra Toland Josephs, Sandy Toland and nephew Scott Toland (Denver, CO); his cousin Maynard Kagen (Chicago, IL) and many other cousins and friends.

Marv was preceded in death by his parents Abraham and Fanny Berger Kagen; his brothers, Leonard A. Kagen, M.D. and Irving N. Kagen, M.D. 

The Kagen family extends their sincerest gratitude to the professional staff at Heartwood Homes Senior Living, his physician, Michael Johnson, M.D. and AseraCare Hospice for the loving care they provided.

A memorial celebration will be held Saturday December 1, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM at Wichmann Funeral Home 537 N. Superior Street, Appleton, WI. 

Online condolences may be expressed at www.wichmannfargo.com.

Because of Marv Kagen's passion for life-long learning, the family asks friends to donate their time and money to area public schools.

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Scott Walker Says No to State Role in Health Care Reform

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
User is currently offline
on Monday, 19 November 2012
in Our View

scott_walker-fakesmileMADISON - Wisconsin won't create a health insurance exchange, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced Friday, joining several other Republican governors to reject a key component of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Wisconsin was one of the few remaining holdouts until Friday, the original deadline for states to declare whether they would run a health insurance exchange, before the Federal government gave stalling States an extension to Dec. 14. The exchanges are online marketplaces where uninsured people and small business will shop for coverage and find out if they qualify for financial assistance or Medicaid benefits beginning in 2014.

Many other states have declared they would leave the operation of the exchanges to the federal government, or partner with federal authorities rather than take charge themselves, as the law intended.

Walker decided to turn the health insurance exchange in Wisconsin over to the federal government rather than do the job himself, citing in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius his opposition to Obamacare and his belief that states like Wisconsin still wouldn't have enough say over their health care markets even if they manage their own exchanges under federal guidelines.

"No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents," Walker wrote. "If the state option is chosen, however, Wisconsinites face risk from a federal mandate lacking long-term guaranteed funding."

Walker had previously rejected a $38 million dollar Federal government grant to establish the exchange, and joining the effort at this late date would have been time consuming and expensive. States also have the option of taking over the exchanges after the feds do the heavy lifting, further reducing the incentive for Walker to get involved. From his own political point of view, Walker has little to gain and much to lose from the successful implementation of an exchange in Wisconsin.

Local control of the exchange establishment would have allowed Wisconsin officials to tailor the program to the particular needs of its citizens and given smaller local health care vendors greater access to the bidding process. By dealing only with the larger vendors on a national basis, the Federal government may have less leverage in negotiating the best prices for Wisconsin citizens.

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